The Macedonian Tendency: August 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Macedonians at Toronto Film Festival

By David Edenden: Two Macedonian films are going to be shown at the Toronto International Film Festival
SHADOWS Milcho Manchevski,
Republic of Macedonia/Germany/Italy/Bulgaria/Spain

Shadows: Although hospital physician Lucky seems to have it all - a beautiful wife, lovely child, good job - he is always struggling to live up to the expectations of others while living in the shadow of his hotshot physician mother. But after he is involved in a car crash and mysteriously saved from certain death, Lucky's life dramatically begins to change.

Teona Strugar Mitevska,
Republic of Macedonia

A social drama, I AM FROM TITOV VELES is the story of three sisters living in Veles, a small industrial town in Macedonia, searching for a better life. With painful honesty, writer/director Teona Strugar Mitevska follows the sisters as they struggle with themselves, their dissolving family and difficult relationships.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Macedonians for Makpedia

Makpedia the Free Macedonian Encyclopedia:

In Macedonian / по маедонски : макпидија

Makpedia is a project that started in 2006 largely because of the Wikipedia project.

Many ethnic Macedonians contributed to the Wikipedia project with limited success. Every time a new article about Macedonia or Macedonians was created it was quickly defaced or modified according to the views of each pro-Greek or pro-Bulgarian that modified it.

You'll find a fairly small database of facts and information about Macedonia on Makpedia but that does not mean that is all to be said of it. We are in our infancy stages and we continue to publish new articles on a regular basis.

Makpedia is staffed solely by ethnic Macedonians. Its main purpose is not to take a stance in denying the existence of an ethnic group such as that of pro-Greeks, pro-Bulgarians, pro-Serbians, or even pro-Albanians. If we as a people can accept their existence and distinctness as a separate culture, then they can do the same for Macedonians. We are Macedonians, not Serbians, not Bulgarians, not Greeks nor Albanians. We have our own language, our own culture, our own identity. Administrator, April 2006"

Friday, August 17, 2007

"Gypsy Caravan" Documnetary Opens in Toronto

By David Edenden: Also See Previous review: Esma in Land of Gypsies

Opening new ears to gypsy music:

"Gypsy Caravan (out of 4)
A documentary about gypsy music and culture. Directed by Jasmine Dellal. 110 minutes. At Canada Square.

Documentarian Jasmine Dellal pursues an agenda beyond musical appreciation in Gypsy Caravan, a tuneful study of a diverse people more accurately known as Romani – or simply Roma or Rom.

Like Buena Vista Social Club, Wim Wenders' celebration of Latin music diversity, Gypsy Caravan seeks to bring a wider audience to an under-appreciated musical form, in this case the minstrel traditions of the Roma. Dellal also has the ambition of addressing 1,000 years of stereotypes. The Roma still suffer from Hollywood depictions of gypsies as rogues and thieves. Indeed, we are told that even the term 'gypsy' is vaguely pejorative, a word coined by outsiders.

Still, it is tolerated and even exploited. Gypsy Caravan was the title of a 2001 North American tour by five bands from four countries – Romania, Macedonia, India and Spain – whom Dellal and her cameramen (Albert Maysles among them) documented both onstage and backstage. Their tour included a Toronto stop; there are also scenes from the mother countries.

We meet the 18 members of Romania's Taraf de Haïdouks, aged 22 to 80, whose use of strings is complemented by the 11-member Fanfare Ciocarlia brass band of their accompanying countrymen. Their admirers include actor Johnny Depp, who appears on camera briefly to praise them and to bemoan stereotypes.

From Macedonia there is a group led by colourful singer Esma Redzepova, the "Queen of the Gypsies," who tells of adopting and teaching dozens of homeless children and even including them in her band.

India is represented by the group Maharaja, racially diverse and including a female impersonator. Spain presents Antonio El Pipa's Flamenco Ensemble, as an on-camera announcer notes that many people don't realize that flamenco music is gypsy music.

Gypsy Caravan succeeds in its primary goal to open ears and minds to Roma music, accurately described as being about "the rhythm, the language, the feeling."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Macedonian Film Festival, October 13, 14, Toronto

Macedonian Film Festival

Last year the first Macedonian Film Festival was held in Toronto. It was the first and only one of its kind in North America. Films by Macedonian directors were enthusiastically received by the Canadian audiences.

This year we are proud to present our second annual film festival on October 13 and 14, 2007. Once again, we will be screening a variety of films of various genres including classic Macedonian films, contemporary features and documentaries. All films will be in English or have English subtitles.


The purpose and goal of the Macedonian Film Festival is to broaden the awareness of all Canadians to Macedonian talent and culture as well as focus attention on contemporary and historical issues facing the Macedonian Diaspora.

The Macedonian Film Festival is the primary venue in Canada for presenting films by Macedonian directors, writers and producers from around the world. The Macedonian Film Festival is an event like no other in North America, bringing together Macedonians and the Canadian community to be enlightened, educated and entertained by what Macedonia has to offer on the socio-cultural global landscape.

The Festival also features films with a Macedonian theme by filmmakers, regardless of their ethnic background. We want to create and encourage dialogue, reflect the Macedonian conscience and complex identity as well as promote our unique Macedonian culture.


Information and box office: 647-262-4622




All films are subject to availability at the time of screening. Please check back often as this page will be updated regularily.
THE SECRET BOOK (Tajnata kniga - Тајната книга)

Released: 2006 - Macedonia (In Macedonian, with English subtitles)
Duration: 93 minutes
Classification: Feature

Director: Vlado Cvetanovski
Screenplay: Ljube Cvetanovski, Jordan Plevnesh
Producer: Dimitar Nikolov
Leading Roles: Gjorgji Jolevski, Meto Jovanovski, Vlado Jovanovski, Labina Mitevska

More Info
The Secret Book
CONTACT (Kontakt - Контакт)

Released: 2006 - Germany/Macedonia (In Macedonian, with English subtitles)
Duration: 95 minutes
Classification: Feature - Drama

Director: Sergej Stanojkovski
Screenplay: Sergej Stanojkovski
Producer: Marcelo Busse, Markus Hilberschmidt
Leading Roles: Labina Mitevska, Nikola Kojo

More Info

Released: 2006 - Slovenia
Duration: 96 minutes
Classification: Documentary

Director: Petra Seliskar

More Info
The Grandmothers of Revolution

Released: 2002 - Canada
Duration: 5 minutes
Classification: Animated

Director: Alex Vasolla

More Info

Released: 2005 - United States
Duration: 20 minutes
Classification: Short Film
(N.B. Adult situations)

Director: Tom Spiroff

More Info
Two Divorced Guys in a Bar
BLACK SEED (Crno seme - Црно семе)

Released: 1971 - Macedonia (In Macedonian, with English subtitles)
Duration: 89 minutes
Classification: Feature - Historical

Director: Kiril Cenevski
Screenplay: Kiril Cenevski, Tashko Georgievski
Producer: Blagoja Angelovski
Leading Roles: Darko Damevski, Mite Grozdanov, Aco Jovanovski, Voja Miric, Risto Shishkov, Pavle Vuisic

More Info
Black Seed

Released: 2005 - Canada
Duration: 90 minutes
Classification: Feature - Drama, Sci-Fi

Director: Boris Mojsovski
Writer: Boris Mojsovski, Ognen Georgievski
Producer: Boris Mojsovski, Srdjan Vilotijevic, Ingrid Veninger
Leading Roles: Greg Bryk, Mary Krohnert, Zorana Kydd, Chris Gillett

More Info
MACEDONIAN DREAM: A Girl and her Accordion

Released: 2006 - Germany
Duration: 30 minutes
Classification: Documentary

Director: Biljana Garvanlieva

More Info
Macedonian Dream

Released: 2004 - Canada, US
Duration: 102 minutes
Classification: Feature - Romance, Comedy
(N.B. Adult situations)

Director: Vic Sarin
Writer: Brigitte Talevski
Producer: Tina Pehme
Leading Roles: Marla Sokoloff, Jennifer Tilly, Barry Watson, Monika Schnarre

More Info

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Noel Malcolm's "THE NEW BULLY OF THE BALKANS " (1992)

By David Edenden,

Along with the Economist article, Do not disagree (Aug.14, 1993), the article below, by Noel Malcolm helped put the plight of ethnic Macedonians in Greece before the before journalists, academics, human rights groups and some politicians in the early 1990's.

Not much has changed. It is interesting to note, that after all these years and all the talk by American politicians of spreading human rights around the world, a hypothetical US Senate Resolution calling the respect of the human rights of ethnic Macedonians in Greece, would not pass. Instead we get this. (here)
The Spectator" of 15th of August, 1992
MAK-NEWS #084.3

(Pictured Parthenon in barbed wires)

You begin to notice it in the moment you arrive on Greek soil. If you land at Athens airport, you can find crude posters declaring "Macedonia is Greek" in the customs hall. If you are crossing by land from the former Yugoslavia, you will find the passport control booth covered with stickers making the same point, some of them in English more hysterical than ammatical: "Macedonia is Greece Since Ever".

......Glancing at the print-out on a computerised bus-ticket, I found, in the space where you might expect "Have a nice trip", the statement, "Macedonia was and shall be Greek". Never outside the communist block have I had such a sense of an all-pervading and unanimous campaign, in which all levels of public life are mobilised to whip up popular feeling. If one adds the world-wide campaign run under the cover of the Greek Tourist Board, it must be the most expensive publicity campaign in Greek history.

It is also the silliest......

Throughout the last two centuries, "Macedonia" has been a geographical expression; it refers to a whole region, which in 1913 was divided between Greece, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia... The part which Yugoslavia obtained was named "the Republic of Macedonia" in 1946; the people who lived there had already been widely referred to as "Macedo-Slavs", and their language as "Macedonian" for decades. When the people of that Yugoslav republic voted for independence last year, it was not surprising that they wanted their new state to be called "Macedonia"-they had no other name. But at this point the Greek government claimed a kind of copyright on the word........

A high-level commission of jurists from the EEC .... recommended immediate recognition [of Macedonia]. But the Greece still block it; and ...... It would take the pen of a Swift or an Orwell to explore all the ramifications of this. More than [two] million people who have spent their lives thinking that they spoke Macedonian, that they read Macedonian literature and watched Macedonian television, are now to be told, at the whim of 12 people lunching in Lisbon, that they speak some nameless thing.....


(Pictured A statue of Goddess with a machine-gun)

We are dealing here with the strangest and yet in some ways most typical of all Balkan states - a state with a profound neurosis about its own sense of identity. I refer, of course, to Greece. Much has been written about the problems of ex-Yugoslav Macedonia, and the potentially catastrophic consequences of the EEC's destabilising policy towards it. But little is ever written about the root cause of the problem:the neurotic nature of Greek nationalism....

Their unbroken descent from Plato, Aristotle and Demosthenes sets them apart; theirs is a higher civilisation, a higher destiny. They have nothing to do with the messy history of the Balkans north of their ancient and immemorial border established in 1913 and 1919. This approach to history requires skimming rather selectively over the thousands of years when there was no such thing as a national Greek state. The early Slav invasions, which reached far into Peloponnese and left settlements which spoke Slav well into the 15th century, are preferably ignored. So, too, are the influxes of Albanians which settled many parts of eastern and central Greece ....

In the early 19th century, the population of Athens was24% Albanian, 32% Turkish and only 44% Greek. In the early20th century, Salonica was 60% Spanish-Jewish, 18% Turkish and18% Greek. Things have changed since then.... But just changing the people was not enough. In the mid-1920s, nearly all the Slav, Vlach or other non-Greek place-names were suppressed. Even personal names were not exempt...Boris had they offered him was between "Pericles" and "Byron".been instructed by the local officials that he must change it to a proper Greek name; the choice

The consequence (or rather, the basis) of this policies is that Greece is that rare thing, almost unknown in Europe, a country with no national minorities. They do not exist; the Greek government says so. For such a phenomenon to be found in the Balkans of all places is indeed a miracle- a sign that Greece is certainly not like other countries. Sitting at a cafe in a Slav village near Florina, in northern Greece, surrounded by people talking in the Slav Macedonian language, I pondered this minor miracle. "They say we don't exist," said one of them; "but tell me, do I look like a ghost?"


...Within Greece, there are no newspapers or radio broadcasts in their [Slavo-macedonian] language. One group of these Slavs has started a small monthly newsletter, with an estimated readership of 10,000. But they have great difficulty finding a printer, and they say that if copies are sent through the post they tend to "disappear". "Even if we find a sympathetic printer", one told me, "he's usually too scared to take the work; he's afraid of losing all his other contracts,or perhaps of getting bricks through his window."

Another group, has applied for permission to start a cultural society; the application has been turned down, on the grounds that it is "anti-Greek". They are not even allowed to sing songs in their language; the last time this happened, at the village festival of Malitis two years ago, proceedings were broken up by the police.

A few bold individuals have taken their case to human rights conferences at Helsinki, Copenhagen and Moscow. I talked to three of these people, each of whom had encountered certain career problems on his return to Greece. Hristos Sideropoulos, a forestry worker - sacked ... His friend Stavros Anastasiadis owns a small trucking company - now stands idle... Archimandrit Nikodemos Tsarkinias, showed me a peremptory letter from his bishop telling him that he must leave his parish work....

The public hysteria over the "Skopje Republic"[Macedonia] certainly does not help. The weekly nationalist-extremist newspaper Stohos ("Aim") now issues regular personal threats against these individuals or their friends, listing names and addresses; its more general articles on this subject carry titles such as "Cut off Their Heads".

...When I attempt to discuss these issues with Prof. Konstantopoulos, director of the Institute of International Public Law in Salonica, I was assured that the so-called Slavs were just bilingual Greeks...."Why cannot they have a newspaper in their own language?" I asked. "They don't want one!" shouted the professor.....His anger was cataclysmic....A few minutes later, he assured me that "secret figures" revealed that 18% of the population of Yugoslav Macedonia are Greek- a piece of ethnographic nonsense so gross that even Stohos ("Aim") might blush to print it.


The Greek Slav Macedonians are caught between the hammer and the anvil of Greek policy on minorities: assimilation or expulsion. To see successful assimilation in action, one has only to visit the Vlach region in the Pindus mountains of northern Greece. The Vlachs who speak a language closely related to Rumanian, have a population of perhaps no more than50,000 in Greece.... Most modern Greek writings about the Vlachs claim that they are "pure Greeks", descended from ancient Greeks who just happened to acquire a Latin language when they did military service for the Romans... and one recently published Greek book about the Vlachs gives a list of words in the Vlach language borrowed from Greek, and concludes in all seriousness that Vlach is "a Greek dialect".....

The 100,000 Turks of western Thrace, on the other hand, have a much stronger sense of ethnic identity. Yet in the eyes of the Greek state they are not Turks at all; they are "Greek Muslims", a religious minority, not an ethnic one. When DrSadik Ahmet, a surgeon who stood for parliament in 1989, referred in a campaign leaflet to "the Turkish minority", he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for using the word"Turkish"...... (The Turkish population is mainly agricultural;though they have tractors, they have not been granted licences
in the past.

...this summer's Amnesty report on torture and ill-treatment in Greeks prisons and police stations happen to concern Turks, Albanians and other non-Greek victims.... The new Greek electoral law will prevent Dr Ahmet from being re-elected next time, and when he loses parliamentary immunity he may face another deferred prosecution. And the long-standing policy of driving these Turks out of Greece continues....More than 3,000 acres have been confiscated for various public projects in the last ten years, and there is now a plan to seize 15,000 acres of farm-land which at present support20,000 Turks ......

Fear of Turkey is, in the long run, a greater stimulus to neurotic Greek nationalism than the Macedonian issue.The fall of the communist bloc has badly damaged Greek self-esteem; it is Turkey that is emerging as the strategic power-base of the whole region... Hence, .. a Greek government television advertisement every night, "means equal status for Greece in Europe!" - is a statement either meaningless or mendacious......

Personally, I have found that whenever I have long conversation with EEC politicians or officials, there always comes a point when they say, "Between you and me, I can't understand how we ever let Greece in." With its peculiar brand of paranoid nationalism, Greece's foreign policy is now the biggest single impediment to any sensible EEC policy in the Balkans; and if the Greek public mood intensifies any further, it may threaten not only the future of the ex-Yugoslav Macedonia but the territorial integrity of Albania as well. Amid all the discussions about the procedure for new members to join the EEC, has anyone thought of a polite way of inviting one member to leave?

- The End -

Books by Noel Malcolm
Kosovo by Noel Malcolm (Paperback - Aug 9, 2002)
Bosnia by Noel Malcolm (Paperback - Aug 9, 2002)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Obama Ignores Macedonian Cry, Accepts Greek Gifts

By David Edenden

I had assumed that the Greek lobby would come calling on Senator Barack Obama and I was right. We will see if pandering to the Greek lobby, ignoring human rights violations of ethnic Macedonian in Greece will propel Obama to the Whitehouse or cause his downfall.

See "Will the Macedonian-Greek Dust-Up Sink Barack Obama"

Barack Obama to Macedonians: No Hope!
Senator Barack Obama rejected the Macedonian cry in favor of Greek gifts.

More here

Legislation to stop state-sponsored propaganda by FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), which is potentially dangerous for Greece, was introduced in the U.S. Senate today by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), along with Presidential candidate and Chairman of the European Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL).

More than 75 Members of Congress and climbing are sponsoring similar legislation (HR 356) in the House of Representatives.

The Resolution points to a television report showing students in a FYROM state-run school being taught that parts of Greece, including Greek Macedonia, are rightfully parts of FYROM. The legislation also points to various recently-published textbooks which contain maps of ‘Greater Macedonia’ extending many miles into Greece and Bulgaria. The Resolution points out that FYROM propaganda, contrary to the U. N. Interim Accord, instills hostility and a rationale of irredentism in portions of the population of FYROM toward Greece and the history of Greece.

The legislation urges FYROM to adhere to the U.N. brokered Interim Agreement, which directs the parties to “promptly take effective measures to prohibit hostile activities or propaganda by state-controlled agencies and to discourage acts by private entities likely to incite violence, hatred or hostility” and review the content of textbooks, maps, and teaching aids to ensure that such tools are stating accurate information. The bill also urges FYROM to work with Greece within the U.N. framework process to achieve longstanding United States and United Nations policy goals by reaching a mutually acceptable official name for FYROM.

The legislation urges FYROM to adhere to the"

Thursday, August 02, 2007

David Cameron On Macedonia Circa 2003

By David Edenden

This is an excellent 2003 article by David Cameron, currently the UK's Conservative Party leader. I do not know if the Greek Ambassador to the UK has forced Cameron to eat his words or what his currently position is, but he comes close to admitting the problems in the Balkans are affected by the behavior of the EU and Nato. It's a good start. Maybe Gordon Brown should take note.

The Macedonian job
Special reports | Guardian Unlimited

Macedonia is key to Balkan stability and should be invited into Nato as soon as possible, writes recent visitor David Cameron

Wednesday September 10, 2003
Guardian Unlimited

"Let me get this straight. Last week someone called Cakara detonated two bombs outside your government's offices. The police won't catch him because the international community has told them not to inflame ethnic tensions. He's so confident that the police are impotent that he's published his mobile phone number in the local newspaper. And that's him you've just called on the phone?"

"Yes. Welcome to Macedonia."

Not your standard dinner party conversation, I admit. But it's a fairly accurate report of one that I had last week in a stunning villa perched on the hills above Skopje, Macedonia's capital city. More to the point, it's true.

Of course technically my neighbour should have said: "Welcome to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Fyrom)", because that's the correct name for the small but beautiful country sandwiched between Greece, Albania, Serbia and Bulgaria. "FYR Macedonia" voted for independence in 1991 during the break-up of Yugoslavia and has been trying to make its way ever since.

It hasn't been easy. The reason for the long name is that the Greeks complained vigorously that Macedonia already existed as a region of Greece and so could not be a separate country as well. This seems churlish in the extreme. The Greeks have their own country, their own name and have been showered with financial assistance since joining the EU. These people - the Macedonians - have recently escaped communism and have virtually nothing. And as if Greek pettiness wasn't enough the Albanians tend to dream of incorporating a large slice of FYR Macedonia into a Greater Albania while the Bulgars tend to think of the country as part of a Greater Bulgaria.

Yet as far as I could see, the country - and I am determined to call it Macedonia - has a perfect right to exist. The population is overwhelmingly Macedonian, with a distinctive language, culture and history. It is poorer than some of the other old Yugoslav republics, but considerably richer than Albania. The people are civilised, friendly and highly educated. Even my tour guide had an MBA.

It is always difficult to know how to answer the question: "What will you do to help us?" But on this occasion, I had the answer. From now on I will call our esteemed EU partner "the former Ottoman possession of Greece (Fopog)."

All right, I admit it. Part of the attraction of the visit was the chance to watch the vital England-Macedonia football international. (And before anyone cries "sleaze", I paid for my air tickets and have disclosed all details in the register of members interests.)

A further excitement was the possibility of meeting the England team and "hanging out" with them. As I can only name about three players of the team I half-heartedly support (Aston Villa) and am distinctly ropey on the full details of the off-side rule, lord knows what I was going to talk about. In fact, despite staying in the same hotel as the England team, I managed the almost impossible feat of not meeting - or even seeing - a single England player.

But I was at the game. Wedged between the massed ranks of Macedonian supporters, at a game which the FA said British fans should avoid, I like to think that I was quietly doing my bit to show our lads that they had not been forgotten. In the event Sven's boys won 2:1 in a relatively scrappy game.

Following the acres of print written about David Beckham, I would simply add this. Off the pitch the expectations about his performance were hyped beyond belief. On the pitch, he was double marked, aggressively tackled and booed by the crowd every time he won the ball. Yet he played like a god, passing with ball-point precision and raising the morale of a distinctly droopy England team with displays of pace and courage. All politicians know about hyping expectations. But hyping expectations and then surpassing them is something we can only dream of.

I may not have met Beckham, but I met a lot of Macedonia's political elite. In a country this small in just a matter of minutes you can wander from the president's office to his defeated rival's and then on to party headquarters, the anti-corruption commission and the supreme court. Following your round of meetings, you pitch up to the movers and shakers restaurant and find .... the president, his rival, the anti-corruption commission and the head of the supreme court. Well, not quite, but not too far off either.

So what did I learn? Am I a junket junkie - or did this mixture of low football and high politics at least partially educate one of our parliamentarians? I would plead for the latter.

Macedonia may be a small country of just over 2m souls, but it is one of the keys to Balkan stability. Just as in Bosnia and Kosovo there are ethnic tensions, in this case between the majority Macedonians and the minority Albanians. But in Macedonia major conflict has been avoided through dialogue, international involvement and common sense from the Macedonian people, who supported their politicians when they signed the Ochrid accords giving generous minority rights to the Albanians.

Conflict could have been bloody and widespread, with Albania backing the ethnic Albanians, the Serbs supporting their fellow Orthodox Christians the Macedonians, Bulgaria and Greece always in danger of being dragged into any territorial disputes.

So what is the answer? Simple, really. Let Macedonia into Nato and guarantee its borders. Ensure there is a speedy framework for getting the former Yugoslav republics into the EU so they can benefit from free trade and structural funds. Recognise the fact that Macedonia paid a substantial price for looking after Albanian refugees from Kosovo during the war - and pay aid in respect of it. Above all, stay involved to give the region the stability that it needs so badly.

If we give the Macedonians peace and they will deliver their own prosperity.

So please, forgive me my brief junket. After all it could be my last. Next year, the Olympics will be held in the Former Ottoman Possession of Greece. Somehow I don't think I'll be getting the call up.

· David Cameron is the Conservative MP for Witney and shadow deputy leader of the Commons. He writes a fortnightly diary for Guardian Unlimited